UA-34158173-1 Mission Unspeakable: When North Koreans Tried to Kill the President of South Korea
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On October 9, 1983, while South Korean President Chun Doo-Hwan was on a visit to Rangoon, Burma to lay a wreath at the Martyr’s Mausoleum of Swedagon Pagoda, a bomb concealed in the roof exploded, killing 21 people including four senior South Korean officials. President Chun was spared because his car had been delayed in traffic and he was not at the site at the time of the detonation.

Chun had seized power in South Korea in December 1979. His tenure as president was characterized as poor on human rights and strong on economic growth and harshly enforced domestic stability. He was on a diplomatic tour in Rangoon when would-be assassins believed to have received explosives from a North Korean diplomatic facility targeted him. It was during Chun’s administration that South Korea hosted the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, in which North Korea refused to participate. As a result of the Rangoon bombing, Burma suspended diplomatic relations with North Korea and Chinese officials refused to meet or talk with North Korean officials for several months.

Thomas (Harry) Dunlop served as Political Counselor under Ambassador Richard L. “Dixie” Walker in Seoul from 1983-1987 and recounted his experiences in an interview with Charles Stuart Kennedy in July 1996. Paul M. Cleveland served as the Deputy Chief of Mission from 1981-1985 and was interviewed by Thomas Stern in October 1996.

 

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